Overweight men, not just women, face daily discrimination

New York, Nov 17:

Overweight men are just as likely as overweight women to experience subtle forms of discrimination when applying for a job or shopping at retail stores, says new research.

pic: independent.co.uk
pic: independent.co.uk

“We were interested in looking at biases toward men who are heavy in employment settings,” said one of the researchers Enrica Ruggs from University of North Carolina, Charlotte (UNCC) in the US.

“A lot of the research that has looked at weight stigmatization or discrimination toward heavy people has tended to focus on women. It’s perceived as more of a critical issue surrounding women, so we wanted to see if men experience some of the same types of detriments that women face,” Ruggs noted.

The research involved two studies. In the first study, non-overweight men applied for jobs at retail stores and the same men applied at different stores wearing overweight prosthetics.

The researchers also wanted to investigate if overweight men would be subjected to discrimination as customers, so the same men posed as customers and visited other retail stores.

They found that when the men applied for jobs or were shopping as customers in their overweight prosthetics, they experienced more types of subtle discrimination, or what the researchers call “interpersonal discrimination”.

“Employees they interacted with would try to end the interaction early, there was less affirmative behaviour like less nodding or smiling; there was more avoidance types of behaviour like frowning and trying to get out of the interaction,” Ruggs said.

The findings suggest that men who are heavy are experiencing really negative behaviours more often than men who are not heavy.

The researchers also looked into the situation where male retail employee was overweight.

This study too found the same types of subtle discrimination was taking place, this time with the customer being the discriminator.

The researchers found, customers thought, the overweight representatives were less professional, their appearance was less neat and clean and they were more careless.

The study was published in the journal of Applied Psychology. (IANS)

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